By Muhibb Ad-Deen Al-Khateeb
We are in Ramadan, a month that is like a yearly alarm clock that invites the people to something other than that to which they are accustomed. It invites us to change our living style and move from the life of comfort and permissibility to a life of extraordinary restrictions and commitment to things by which we do not abide in the other months.
Ramadan is like an alarm clock. It bangs our ears while we are asleep to awaken us and take us from a monotonous and comfortable system of living and taming of one's soul to a system of extraordinary restrictions in living and controlling of one's soul.
The wisdom in Islam behind this contingent change to the lives of Muslims in Ramadan lies in the desire to train the Muslim soul to adopt this change – especially what pertains to curbing one's vain desires and getting accustomed to patience – as second nature in other than Ramadan and all their life conditions.
This change in our lifestyle occurs in Ramadan, but its effect in curbing one's vain desires should linger on and extend to the development of our Islamic morals in all other months, so that we can absorb it as a habit in our entire lives. Otherwise, Ramadan would be like a body devoid of liveliness and heavenly spirit, which characterizes it.
In every year, Ramadan comes to us so that we can train ourselves in patience, self-discipline, and curbing ourselves from vain talk and succumbing to desire.
It comes to get us accustomed to good speech and purity of heart in all what we say or feel.
It comes to remind us of Allah Almighty and accustoms us to walk in the path drawn by Islam, and so that we become careful to not say or do except that which is pleasing to our Lord in the period from suhoor (pre-dawn meal) to iftar (fast breaking meal), and then from iftar to suhoor.
It comes to us with its ordained system, which includes self-restraint, and curbing one's desires and strengthening one's spirit and body by eating less. In this way, nutrition of the body goes hand in hand with nutrition of the soul in the life of a diligent and toiling Muslim.
We are about to experience great things for which we have to gather all our powers: the powers of the soul and discovering their true metals and using them in this ongoing struggle; the powers of bodies and preparing them for bearing the burdens of the sacred jihad; and the powers of money and using them in the economic advance, the spheres of industry and development, and the hidden treasures inside the earth, which include metals and cultivation. We should make use of these elements in a way that bespeaks awareness of the great favors of Allah, the Exalted, upon us and gratitude to Him through employing and exploiting them properly and spreading their usefulness to the best of our capabilities and efforts.
This universal mobilization of all our material and moral powers requires us to rationalize the use of every power of them. We should not use any of them except in the way that increases us in strength, might, blessings, and invulnerability.
This is one of the facts of Islamic economics that every Muslim should know and act in accordance with; otherwise his commitment would be as much deficient as his neglect about knowing and applying this fact.
The wealth that you own and that is at your disposal – be it large or small – is not truly yours, for everything belongs to Allah Almighty. It is merely something entrusted to you and you got it with the help and facilitation from your Lord, not due to your effort and endeavor (alone). there are people, whom you may know or not, who are cleverer than you in gathering money and more active in this respect, but they are, nonetheless, poorer than you and less successful. This is for a wise reason, known to Allah, the Exalted. In the past, Qaroon bragged about his wealth and claimed that he had been given it due to knowledge that he possessed. However, Allah Almighty belied him and annihilated his wealth.
The part of your money that belongs to you – be it large or small – is that which meets your basic needs. You spend thereof in a reasonable manner. What is beyond that is a trust that Allah has given to you. If you are an owner of a factory, then expand your factory with your surplus money so that fellow citizens can benefit from the extra production and so that your country will not need to import from foreign nations. Likewise, if you are an owner of fields, farms, or gardens, then favor your fellow citizens by expanding cultivation of such crops that they need badly, even if they are less profitable than other crops that they do not need as badly. If you are a businessman, then do not commit the same mistake committed by one of our rich businesspeople. He obtained a permission to import low-price cars to be used by people in running their business; then he made a change to that permission so that he could import luxurious cars for opulent and profligate people, thus making bigger profits. As a result, Allah Almighty punished him with troubles that he would have been safe from if he had used his money in a proper way that benefits people and pleases his Lord, not on things in high demand among profligate people, at whose money he aims.
If every trader, farmer, or factory owner knew that what he possesses is nothing but a trust given to him by Allah Almighty, so that he uses it in a good way to develop the Ummah (Muslim community) and elevate its status among other nations, Allah, the Exalted, would increase them in wealth and prosperity and would make them more loved by people, more successful in their business, and more blessed in their wealth.
Our greatest teacher, sallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam, did not fear poverty for us as much as he feared being engrossed in excessive opulence for us. Now, the state of some of those upon whom Allah Almighty bestowed huge wealth is amazing. they spend it wastefully and transfer it from the Muslim countries to hostile nations. Even, such great affluence may lead some people to much worse than that, incurring the wrath of their Lord and accelerating His punishment.
We are indeed quite far from 'Umar ibn 'Abdul-'Azeez, may Allah have mercy upon him. He ruled a vast kingdom extending over Asia, Africa, and Europe. Nonetheless, upon assuming the caliphate, he moved from the abode of governance to a small house outside the northern gate of the Banu Umayyah mosque. One night, as he was addressing some state affairs by candlelight, a person came to talk to him about something unrelated to state affairs; thereupon, he put out the candle, so as not to waste part of the states' resources that Allah Almighty had entrusted to him.
There are those among our righteous predecessors whose honesty reached such an extent in disposing of the wealth in their possession. This is because they were aware of the meanings of the Islamic economic system and acted according to them. they were keen to measure their Islamic commitment in accordance with this awareness of the message and the objectives of this religion. Hence, the borders of their kingdom reached Spain in Europe and the Caucasus and what is beyond it in Russia. At the time, no empire was vaster, wealthier, or more advanced than the nations ruled by the Islamic caliphate across the continents known in that age.
The righteous predecessors include those whose honesty reached such a level because Ramadan would come to them and then depart, leaving behind its impact in self-discipline and in curbing one's vain desires. After Ramadan, the effect of this blessed month continued to be evident in their morals. In fact, they were dressed in the character of Ramadan their entire lives. So, they attained glory and dominance among all other nations on earth.
Here is Ramadan, coming to us once more to invite us to assume the manners of our predecessors in the early days of Islam. Would we hold ourselves accountable for how we implement the systems prescribed in connection to Ramadan and to what extent we achieve its objectives?
There are surely some among the fasting people who deviate from the wisdom and perfection of fasting. they do so by scheming evil against people, engaging in idle talk, and doing other things that are displeasing to their Lord during the period between suhoor and iftar, and as they stay up at night from iftar to suhoor and spend money, which they allege to own, on their desires. But this money is actually a trust that Allah Almighty gave to them as a test, so that He will see whether they will spend it in a reasonable and wise manner. Among them are those who engage in thikr (remembrance); but they do so by their tongues only, not their hearts. When the time for iftar or suhoor comes, they fill their bellies with things that Ramadan came to prevent them from indulging in.
Satan was successful, in the past Ramadans, in persuading semi-men among us to spoil their own fasting through some of the things that contradict the wisdom behind fasting and the rites and systems related to this worship. Let us disgrace Satan this Ramadan and judge our Muslim souls according to our Muslim resolve, preparing them for what Allah Almighty wills for us: a great matter in a great future in which we rule our Islamic countries with our Islamic ethics and manners, and thus we can raise our Ummah to the level of dominance and prosperity on earth.
Just as Islam is the religion of truth, it is the religion of patience, moderation, and frugality. We observe the rites of Ramadan to establish the truth therewith and get accustomed to patience, moderateness, and thriftiness.
We used to complain of colonial powers and wicked rulers and ascribe all evils and weaknesses in our land to them. In fact, colonialism was the source of evils and weakness that afflicted us, and the wicked rulers were examples for the riffraff and the cause of the extravagance, wastefulness, and decadence that we descended to. the approach of Islam, however, was declaring to those who had reason: As you are, your rulers will be. It is we who failed to apply the way and system of our religion in our lives; so, we fell as victims under the claws of colonial powers. It is we who became lowly and wasteful. So, our Lord afflicted us with wicked rulers. Had we adhered to the way of Islam in our lives and practices, Allah, the Exalted, would have saved us from the dominance of colonialism and the evil of wicked rulers.
Allah, the Exalted, saved us from the claws of colonial powers and their subordinate wicked rulers to test our manners in life and our preparedness to maintain this favor and train our society to live with it and to see our position as regards His laws of elevation and decadence and advance and backwardness.
The favors that Allah Almighty bestows on a nation entail some responsibilities. Those favors do not endure unless the concerned nation assumes its responsibilities duly.
As Allah, the Exalted, showed favor to us when He saved us from the nightmare of colonialism and wicked rulers, this entailed a great duty upon us; that is, to mobilize all our powers to establish our new entity on the firm foundation of morals, knowledge, fortunes, organization, investment, and the view of wealth in our possession as trusts given to us by our Lord, which we should dispose of in a way that achieves the public interests of the Ummah and the homeland. This foundation alone can endure the lofty building whose construction was made easy for us by the grace of Allah, the Exalted; it is a present from our generation to the next generations – our children and grandchildren.
Fortunately, the Islamic system – if we train ourselves to apply it – helps us to mobilize our entire powers and construct our lofty building thereon; and the Islamic life during Ramadan – as Islam intends for Muslims – constitutes the cornerstone of this foundation, upon which this blessed month invites us to establish our future building.
Let us make Ramadan, this year, the start of a new life, in which the Muslim soul is trained to rein in its desires and take part in the major mobilization for addressing the major events.
This is to be done by proper use of what has been given as trusts – homelands, fortunes, health, and strength. We should direct all of these to the cause of Allah Almighty and in pursuit of His pleasure. And the good end will be for the righteous.
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